Parenting advice I ignored… but now wish I had tried sooner

These two…
Photo by jandrdeutscher.

I know, I know — other people looooove to tell you how to raise your kids. After getting unsolicited comments from just about everyone you know (and strangers! So fun!), it gets really easy to just start tuning people out — and by people, I mean everyone. Brooke sent me an email saying it might be fun to ask around and find out what parenting advice people have received that actually did work — and it turns out you guys have tons of it (AND were super respectful while discussing!):

Amassing baby stuff

My mum told me not to bother buying toys and to give the kids pans and a wooden spoon instead. She was so right. — Danielle

Sleeping arrangements

Whether we're talking co-sleeping, bed-sharing, or sleep training, it seems like SLEEP is the topic that you guys have received the most advice about. The results were all over the place (Co-sleeping is great! Sleep training rocks!), but it was cool to read how many of you changed what you were doing and loved it.

Sleep when the baby sleeps. My oldest is almost three and I still share almost every nap with them. — Andrea R.
When I was nursing/night parenting I took all clocks out of my bedroom. I was constantly checking the clock and wigging out about how much/little sleep I was getting. [Everyone] slept so much better after that. — Sanquinetta
DSCF2573
Photo by blue_grassbudgie.
[To try] sleep training. I resisted, but it worked like a charm and now we all sleep better. I know this isn't for everyone, but it totally worked for us. — Brittney M.
[Trying] Co-sleeping. We thought a bassinet would be good for little Miss. I think she may have slept in it once. The only way anyone got any sleep was with co-sleeping. It's not for everyone, but I was surprised that it turned out to be for us! — Cassandra S.
Anything you can do i can do better…
Photo by Alissa.
Letting my son sleep on his belly… my mom told me that all four of us would only sleep that way, and we survived. Teo sleeps sooo much better. (I should note that the APA says that belly-sleeping is unsafe for babies under six months. We waited until Teo was rolling over on his own to try this tip.) — Jill (Ed note: See also — Calculated risk, or why I let my kid sleep on his stomach)
Co-sleeping. My husband and I thought we would never let the little one sleep in our bed. It has been soothing for all of us. I think it has brought us all closer too, we have a very strong bond. The baby is always smiling too. I am nervous about putting him on his own and have been reading about how the primal people slept… they never left their young. So now I am thinking of what to do next and when to do it. — Heidi

Ohhh… toddlers

We try to encourage independence and self-determination in our two-year-old, but after a few late nights of naked temper tantrums, we've decided to use declarations rather than ask permission for diapers and pajamas, after a certain point. And, the amazing part? She respects it! — Melody
Boy of scrunchy nosed faces
Photo by Elka.
Ignoring tantrums. I would always try to talk my toddler through it… which led to bigger tantrums. Then ignored him after the second child was born… worked pretty well. — Katarina
Reward charts! Our house was a battle zone until we started using them. I was resistant and skeptical. Three seemed too young to understand, I thought she would develop a "What do I get out of it?" attitude. Like when she would try to force a poop to score an M&M. We put them up and she went to bed peacefully the first night. She has been eager to do chores, bedtime has been a cinch. The rewards are proud reminders that she earned something. I was wrong. So, so wrong! — Jessica
Using rewards for pooping in the potty. I always figured it would happen in his own time, but with autism in the mix, I have had to be more creative because of the yuck factor. — Alexis

Ok, folks — these bits of wisdom are from Facebook, but I know there's even MORE lurking. Tell me, tell me: what advice have people given you that you're totally glad you finally tried?

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  1. Before my daughter was born, I'd heard that I was supposed to feed her every 2-3 hours. So when she was born, I tried to stick with that feeding schedule but it was miserable. If she was asleep she wouldn't wake up to eat "on time" and I was still in a haze while on my pain meds after the C-section so keeping up with the times was rough. I have a very good friend who is a nurse and came in from out of town to stay with us for a couple days. After observing me stress out about feeding her on time and fighting with her to wake up and eat, she said to me, "You know, Liz, she'll eat when she's hungry." After that I ditched the schedule and just fed her when she was awake and acting hungry. Its been so much easier since then!

    2 agree
    • My daughter will sleep for nearly 6 hours if I let her at night. So I let her. Then during the day she will eat a lot more. So I feed her a lot more. I get sleep, and she gets food. Together we are a happy bunch!

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    • I feel you sister! I had the same feelings except my son was diagnosed with a metabolic disorder so I kept thinkging. "if I don't feed him on time, he will slip-into- a-coma-and-die!" but he always woke up when he was hungry, so it turned out to be fine! I kept resetting my alarm for 3 hours, and sometiems I would forget to reset it, and get really confused.

      1 agrees
    • I agree with this completely. My son is a week old today and he has slept pretty much through the night since birth. The night I stayed at the hospital after delivering him, he didn't eat for 5 hours. The next morning the nurse freaked out, but what was I supposed to do? Force my boob down his gullet because it was "time"? He's a very healthy eater and the first thing he does in the mornings is eat a big breakfast. (Or should I say drink? LOL) I'm not worried one bit. Babies are very instinctual creatures, they're not going to let themselves starve.

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    • Hey Jo! It (and similar comments) has been removed because this post isn't about whether or not sleeping on the back is ok for infants — it's about what parenting advice you ignored and wished you had tried sooner. If you want, you can see this post from 2010 called Calculated risk, or why I let my kid sleep on his stomach and join in on the discussion there.

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      • Okay. I understand that.

        But I do think it's possibly a little dangerous to look on this almost as something whose safety can be debated when the statistics show that the 'Back to Sleep' advice does work.

        3 agree
        • Yep — we know. However, we trust our readers to read research about topics they're wondering about and to make their own decisions from there.

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  2. "Don't hold her too much. She'll get clingy"

    Totally ignored that one. YA RIGHT like i wasnt gonna hold my baby. She's 9 months now and I STILL hold her as much as I/she wants. And guess what…she's an independant little spitfire.

    3 agree
    • Totally agree, I held my daughter all the way up til she was a squiggly thing running from me lol. She now is a fiercely independent spitfire. We still cuddle (she's almost 16 months old) but has no fear lol. My son is only 22 days old and while everyone told me that I'd regret holding her do much and she'd be jealous of him, she is gentle and kind and doesn't so much as cry while I'm holding and wearing him just as I did her.
      My mom has even reverted her thinking on baby wearing. She agrees it's the best for little ones.

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  3. I totally agree with Angela. I cuddle my little one all the time and she is very independent. I think she actually feels freer to explore because she knows she's safe with me.

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    • Studies I've read recently totally support this. Going to your child when they cry and holding them when they want it will actually result in them being more independent later – because they can trust that if they need you, you'll be there as opposed to being afraid that if they let you go, you won't come back.

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      • Hey guys — please keep the discussion on topic. We're not debating what advice is good or isn't good, but just… stuff you were like "oh I'll never do that!" and you ended up doing. Keeping it light. Keeping it fun.

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  4. I thought I wouldn't want any photos in the delivery room, but I am SO GLAD our doula and my husband took the ones that they did. That's not about parenting per se, but I have noted that even 3 months into motherhood I *cherish* every photo and video we've taken, and they give me great joy. SO glad I was talked into it!

    I'm also very glad that we didn't buy any clothes for Olive–she's set for a good long time thanks to hand-me-downs and gifts alone!

    3 agree
  5. Slightly off-topic, but thank you for posting Alissa's pic… I haven't lurked her blog in awhile and didn't realize they'd added to the family! I am such a nerd for how happy that made me!

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  6. It was suggested to us that we expose the baby to a wide variety of flavors early. Our pediatrician gave a super limited list of no-nos (no honey, only whole milk <1yr,choking hazards) and other than that we gave her everything. She is now a year old and loves curry, spare ribs, coconut milk, tomato sauce, spicy sausage, etc – the only thing she won't eat is baby food!

    3 agree
    • Oh! Can I ask you a question? I've been giving my baby (who's nearly 9 months) a lot of garlic and spices, but I'm nervous about giving her 'hot' spices like chillies in case they upset her stomach or she rubs something spicy in her eye. Has this been a problem for you?

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      • My son loves spicy foods, and is genetically pre-disposed to love salsa on everything. We started him mild, then amped it up until it seemed he was having some tummy distress (this over months). As for the eye thing, it sounds horrible, but when they do it once, they won't do it again.

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    • Yes! We completely ignored the "simple foods only and on this schedule" thing My son was way into eating early and thought rice cereal was horrible! So we have been feeding him what we eat since the beginning. He LOVES things with flavor: Pesto, Guacamole, Goat cheese and yes Salsa!" We haven't delved too deeply into the spicy world yet (he's 13 mo now) but his Dad is a spicy guy so I am sure it will happen. My husband and I did sit down to think about our families and what foods we did want to avoid so we were on the same page. After that it was party in my son's mouth time!

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  7. Can I say something I WISH I did? I should have listed to all those people who told us to get a travel system. We live in a condo so I figured we did not have room. (now I realize we could have used the storage room where people put their bikes.) We only had a car seat. I had to use a utility cart to carry him, and it was very awkward pushing the big cart, while trying to hold the seat still. I see photos of people leaving with their babies all tucked snug in easy to push strollers. Duh!!

    1 agrees
  8. I parented my first son by-the-book, ie, following all the various official ways to take care of baby. With the second one, we did many things differently, and I realized that while not all the advice was perfect, some of it was just as valid as the official stance.

    Some of the advice I wish I'd taken has to do with stuff– I was (and still am) dedicated to not collecting a bunch of stuff. But a few things that I thought were ludicrous ended up being so freaking awesome. One that immediately comes to mind is a wipes warmer… this seemed like an ode to the silliness of the baby industry. But it turns out my baby really hated warm poo + iced wipes… go figure. I'm pretty sure I laughed in the face of whoever suggested a wipe-warmer. I wish I could remember who it was so they could tell me how they told me so 🙂

    3 agree
  9. The straight up Ibuprofen for Teething. We get a dye-free generic and I cringe when I pour that sugery-goo down his throat. But he has had a very fast and furious teething experience and it was the first thing that helped him for reals. Frozen bagels were a godsend also (that I ignored for awhile too!) and now we randomly put food in the freezer to try it for teething! We tried the belladonna teething tabs and gels. We tried cold icy things. We tried fancy toys and had no luck. But the Ibuprofen actually lets him sleep!

    3 agree
  10. I'm in total agreement with Danielle from the article – we didn't want to bury ourselves under a kabillion toys, and our son is completely in heaven playing with our pots and pans, measuring cups and all our cooking utensils despite the colorful bin of toys we have for him.

    2 agree
  11. People in Thailand and India feed their babies spicy curry with no ill effects 🙂

    1 agrees
    • That is EXACTLY what I told my father in law when he said that my son would of course have an allergic reaction to Indian food because it's too spicy. How does that even make sense?!

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  12. Pacifiers! Totally went a whole month without using one and was just fine, but long car rides/trips, going places alone with him, and the fact that my son naturally wants to suck on something when he gets close to my body made it very difficult to go places and baby-wear unless he was super-asleep. My father finally told me to stop trying to do everything a certain way and give it a try, because I was having such trouble. Now my son seems so happy when he can suck on the "paci" for a few minutes and fall asleep when I'm wearing him, or riding in the car. It also tides him over for a few minutes if I need to feed him and get set up beforehand. I did need to change types of pacifiers to the green round ones they give at hospitals, because the other types messed with his latch, but it has been great. I just make sure he doesn't sleep with it or use it for too long at a time.

    1 agrees
  13. My advice to new parents is always to remember that all of the books and 'how to's' are only guidelines and not set in stone. Every child is unique what works for one may not work with the next. Find what is best for them and yourself. Take in the tips and use them as a starting point.

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